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Saskatoon for BioTech Congresses

Saskatoon, A Centre of Excellence in BioTech Research

When you receive 30 per cent of all the federal research dollars for biotech, and when your university employs the country’s only synchrotron — a powerful imaging system — to create ground-breaking solutions to challenges in health, environmental and material sciences, it’s a sure sign the work you’re doing is world-class and life-changing. That’s certainly the case in Saskatoon, a world leader in biotech research, and an up-and-coming location for conferences dedicated to human and animal health.

“Saskatchewan is recognized as a world leader in biotechnology and Life Sciences with some of the most advanced facilities in Canada,” says Brad Peters, director of international sales for Tourism Saskatoon.

Once believed to be an all but eliminated risk to the global population, infectious diseases are making a comeback as a leading threat to human health. Which is why the work being conducted the University of Saskatchewan is so critical. Here, scientists are battling emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases through their research at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of North America’s largest containment level 2 and 3 vaccine and infectious disease research institutes. With $200+ million in biocontainment infrastructure, 150+ infectious disease and vaccine studies annually, VIDO-InterVac can claim several world firsts in animal vaccines, including the first swine model to study the Zika virus.

Inside the Canadian Light Source

In addition to the work being done with contagious diseases, the University of Saskatchewan is using disruptive technology to produce isotopes for medical diagnostics without the use of a nuclear reactor, and without creating radioactive waste. The new technologies were developed through Canadian Isotopes Innovation, a branch of the University of Saskatchewan-owned Canadian Light Source. The University is also a leader in community-engaged health research using robotic technology to delivery healthcare to rural and remote communities, and in One Reproductive Health care, which studies animal and human reproductive health issues.

It’s just such research initiatives that helped draw experts from a diverse range of specialties to the One Health World Congress in Saskatoon in 2018. Four days of workshops, symposia, debates and scientific presentations addressed how human, environmental and animal health are interconnected, and how each discipline can work together to combat infectious diseases.

Vikram Misra, University of Saskatchewan professor of microbiology at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine notes that University of Saskatchewan’s One Health research approach to undergraduate, graduate, and faculty training and research programs was a key factor in the organizing committee’s decision to host the conference in Saskatoon.

“Such health problems are complex, and we need expertise from all disciplines to understand and collaboratively solve them. Our congress [brought] together scientists, health care professionals, educators, and members of the community, as well as people responsible for making government policy, to share their points of view and better understand each other’s priorities and needs.”

The Saskatoon congress, which welcomed 1,000 delegates, was the first time the event was held in North America. Learn more about meeting in Saskatoon, here.

Curious about Canada’s Life Sciences?